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Importation of Trophy Elephants

Keva Li, News Editor

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Several months ago, while brushing my teeth with the radio humming, I heard about a decision regarding the importation of trophy elephants, reversing a previous ban allowing hunters to bring in elephant body parts to “contribute to the survival of the species.” This struck me as odd and piqued my curiosity. Rushing to school, I made a mental note to investigate further. Later, I picked up the NY Times and referenced the article “Trump Administration to Lift Ban on ‘Trophy’ Elephant Imports.” How is it possible that killing an animal can augment survival? Contemplating this, I read with intense emotion and a sense of logic.

The article revealed that the decision was announced, not in the United States, but in Tanzania at a meeting, co-hosted by the Safari Club International, hunter’s rights advocates. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, therefore, was informing a receptive group, but also avoiding facing any probing American audience. Already my “hackles were up” for the indirect delivery. This article revealed the approval of elephant imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia, both with declining elephant populations. Conversely, neighboring countries with stable elephant populations are still under the ban.

In addition, the article notes that the SCI partnered with the National Rifle Association taking legal action against the then Obama Administration ban. We all hear about the lobby, NRA, every time a mass shooting whether it be at a mall, school, theatre or otherwise occurs. The Times article mentioned the blog “First For Hunters,” which disclosed the enhanced role the NRA played in promoting the “rights of hunters.” The NRA is complicit in the demise of not only innocent humans, but of possibly driving elephants to extinction.

Intrigued, I then perused articles from The Atlantic and National Geographic, learning that large male elephants are the hunters’ main targets, because of their outsized tusks, weighing up to 102.7 kilograms, often valued at $2,100 per kilo. Regardless, male elephants play a vital role in their population genetic continuity. Alarmingly I noted that in only seven years, Africa’s elephant population decreased by 30%. Repopulating is difficult due to single-births only, birthing after a five year span, and male elephants living in same-sex clusters far away from females. The loss of African elephants will have dire results on the ecosystem as they carry seeds in their excretion and dissemination contributes to 90 types of tree and plant cross-fertilization. Maintaining the vitality of the population is important as elephants serve as great ecology preservers.

Clearly, the decision promulgated regarding African elephants, supported by individuals like Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke with ties to SCI, is a one-sided deal made to hunt the very species that we have promised to save. So again, should we kill elephants to save them? A definite no!

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Importation of Trophy Elephants